From David — A weblog (with full archive)

September 19, 2017 — Further information on “Matilda”

Met this morning with Detective Steve McCarthy, CFEI. CFI, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department. The topic at hand was further information on the murder of an unidentified woman known in the department as “Matilda.” She was found between Marne and Coopersville.

It strikes me as amazing that our brains recognize faces in the most unusual places and configurations. Here is a look as what rabbit hunters saw tucked underneath brush and small logs:

Detective McCarthy says that if he is able to identify this woman it will go a long way to helping to solve the case. He’s looking through missing person reports from around the area and thinks that maybe she came from Detroit or Chicago. She was somebody’s caught, maybe somebody’s sister, and maybe somebody’s mother. She was somebody.

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August 16, 2017 — PBS will be rebroadcasting “Heritage Hill Bride”

The film will be carried again on WGVU-TV at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 26.

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July 28, 2017 — A Conquerors’ picnic. You are welcome.

Every year at this time the Conqueror’s Support Group holds its picnic at the Mackay-Jaycees Park pavilion in Grand Rapids. The location is just west from Kalamazoo Avenue, north of 28th Street. All are welcome, but especially those who have had a loved one (or loved ones) murdered. The picnic runs from 3-7 p.m. I plan to be there, somewhat late…but there.

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July 5, 2017 — Heritage Hill Bride to air on PBS July 19…VERY early

Yep, that’s pretty much it. Heritage Hill Bride: The Murder of Shelley Speet Mills will air at 3 a.m. July 19th. 3 a.m.!!!! Yikes! It’s all closed captioned thanks to the contributions of those who generously gave to a Kickstarter campaign. Thank you, thank you.

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June 9, 2017 — “Cold Case Files” = The Dog’s Breakfast

Wow, that was underwhelming and badly done. The piece, “Circle of Friends”, is at best a badly distorted rendition.

I’m still thinking my way through telling a part of that story.


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June 7, 2017 — A&E’s “Cold Case Files” tackles the Shannon Marie Siders murder story Thursday night

Ample Entertainment, a LA-based production company, has revived the old Bill Kurtis show, Cold Case Files. I have known for some time that they were going to tell the Shannon Siders murder story. And former Newaygo Police Chief Pat Hedlund and Shannon’s Father, Bob Siders, contacted me after Ample came to the area to do their interviews. And tomorrow night A&E will be show the finished product at 10 p.m. on A&E. Here’s the website.

I will be very interested to watch what they have done.

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June 4, 2017 — Closed captioning status and a new interview in the Tony Willis case

…Just a little slower than I anticipated, but not by much. WGVU has had the video and transcript files for a couple weeks now and it’s a matter of getting the work into and out of the schedule. My contact there says he does not anticipate problems. And he asked if there were a hurry. I assured him that there wasn’t; let it be in the order of things. He anticipated that it probably would be completed in this next week. These folks have been very pleasant to work with.

Then I need to fetch the captioned file, compress it for on-line posting, get it up on Vimeo, and make links for you all. Unlike politics and sausage, this is something you won’t mind seeing made, but it’s also not very exciting unless you understand what it represents.

We also are trying to get the film into the Michigan prison system. The idea is that somebody there most likely knows what happened in this case and the killer may indeed be inside. So far we’ve not had success with the Michigan Department of Corrections, but we will persevere. We’re hoping Representative Jim Lilly’s office might effect a meeting. We’ve asked. If you have other ideas, please let me know.

As well, yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Sandy Willis, Tony Willis’ big sister. Tony was killed August 6, 1994. On shot in the back and one to the back of the head, execution style. And I learned a whole lot more about the case. As their mother, Mary Hillman, had said, Sandy pretty much was “Big Sister” to the whole group of ten children, the one, really, who raised them. And it was Sandy who had to identify two of the bodies and tell their mother what had happened. And I am sure that somebody out there knows who killed Tony. I’m not thinking it’s necessarily (or even remotely likely) someone who reads these pages. If that ONE person would come forward, we’d be done with this right now. No more waiting, no more agony.

One person.

Again, my thanks to you all.


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May 18, 2017 — The transcript is ready to go…and a new case, or cases

The first step in ANY closed captioning is to have an accurate transcript of everything that’s heard in the film. I have had the great good fortune to work with Tanja Kelly during these last few years. She runs Kelly Reporting Services here in Grand Haven. Tanja is a retired court reporter. …Just as a for instance, she did pretty much the entire trial in the Janet Chandler murder case in 2007. That’s where and when I met her. And she is an excellent transcriptionist and has just finished Heritage Hill Bride. Aas usual, the file is exactly accurate. This work cannot be easy; she says that when she listens to the disturbing details of cases she just has to insulate herself. When we talked about it she acted out pulling a cowl around herself–down over her head, throat, and chest–for protection.

That’s something investigators, prosecutors, all the support personnel face: the brutality of crime. And they face it day in and day out. I am grateful that she continues to serve during her retirement from the courts.

As well, yesterday I sat down with Mary Hillman, the mother of three sons who died violent deaths (and a six-year0old daughter who died by fire after getting too close to a stove burner). Our main topic was the 1994 shooting death of her son Tony, still unsolved. Another son, Timothy, was shot by a friend in a case of mistaken identity in 1989, and a third son, Jeffrey, was drowned in Lake Michigan near the south breakwater at Muskegon in 1978. Mary described looking at his body. She said it was evident that he had been bound hand and foot. She said while there was a successful wrongful death suit in that case, the people who killed Jeffrey still walk free. I reminded her that there is no statute of limitations on murder. I am sure there is far more about these deaths than I yet know, and I have hopes that someone out there might be able to steer me to it. All three f her son’s death occurred during the month of August.

For now, here are some reminders.

Grand Rapids Press, August 7, 1994

Grand Rapids Press, August 18, 1978



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April 30, 2017 — Thanks to you we made the goal

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition. Thanks to the 23 donors, it’s ALL a go! We have exceeded our $2000 goal by $15. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen, amen, amen.

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April 30, 2017 – Almost there…93 percent raised to close caption the film

I believe and trust that the remaining funding, some $135, will find its way to complete our Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to close caption Heritage Hill Bride: The Murder of Shelley Speet Mills. Only with closed captions will it be able to be shown on our local PBS station, WGVU-TV; that’s the law and it’s the right thing to do for those who have a hearing impairment. It’s my hope, too, that some other stations around the state will pick it up, but that’s up to them individually.

So, my thanks go out to those of you who contributed at this Kickstarter address. My thanks also go to those who even thought about it and sent up a prayer. It all counts.

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